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EdgeRank Gets Tight

FacebookI had a feeling this would happen.

Five months ago today, I calculated the average CPM for Facebook’s new “Promote” feature.

For the uninitiated, not every post goes to every friend/fan on Facebook.  Facebook has an algorithm called “EdgeRank” that calculates if a post is right to go to a particular user’s news feed.

Facebook introduced the promote feature to override EdgeRank and force posts to users.

In my May article, I pointed out that it would be very tempting for Facebook to tweak the formula to make posts go to fewer people and therefore make the promote feature more valuable and necessary.

In the post, I wrote about the promote feature:

I wouldn’t use this feature outside of promoting an extremely urgent or important update. Intelligent, multiple (and don’t forget free) posts should be able to get the reach needed to make the posts visible enough… that is unless Facebook starts tightening down EdgeRank and makes “Promote” the only way to get critical mass for posts.

Doing that would be very risky for Facebook since it would be the start of a change towards a pay-site. This would be a dangerous path for Facebook that might push people to another, free social network.

It looks like Facebook has done exactly that.

Today I came across a tweet from tech mogul Mark Cuban mentioning an article covering what appears to be a decreasing reach on posts from a Facebook page.

In the article which claims this might be the “biggest bait ‘n switch in history” summarizes the case:

Summing up, Facebook has taken a pee in their own pool from quite a lofty height, turning vast armies of “influentials” against the company, people who are now making plans—born of necessity—to bolt from that pool and to stop putting any effort there. Furthermore, Facebook’s greedy grab will have the knock-on effect of causing many blogs to simply throw in the towel, diminishing Facebook’s own business ecosystem and Facebook’s value to its own users to the point where only Axe Deodorant, Taco Bell and Nike will be showing up in your Facebook newsfeed, which after all, is pretty much the sole point of Facebook in the first place! They’ve deliberately broken their own product’s biggest selling point. Whose idea was that?

I was a little curious so I did an experiment.  I exported the insight data from three of my most popular pages for the last 8 months and calculated the daily post reach.

To find the reach percentage, I took the daily viral page post impressions and divided by the total page likes.  From there, I plotted the reach percentage and found the trendline.

The trendlines on all three pages were down.

The trend on EdgeRank reach is headed down after Facebook released the promote button

I think the sample size is still a little too small but the initial impression is not good.

It sure looks like EdgeRank has been tightened. As time continues and we get more data, it will be more apparent what Facebook has done with EdgeRank.

It is very possible this is just a statistical coincidence.  As more pages are tested and more time passes, the sample size will increase and what really happened to the EdgeRank algorithm will become more clear.

If the formula was tightened up to let fewer posts out, how low of a reach will it take for businesses to leave Facebook?  What will the overall backlash be against the social media giant?

Many companies spent thousands building up their page following and now they are going to have to pay a roughly $5 CPM to reach that audience.  That’s going to be a tough pill to swallow for many businesses.

This could be the start of a huge shakeup in the social media / marketing world.